Public History

  • Bachelor of Arts in History
    • Emphasis
    • Accelerated Master's Degree

    Get Involved

    A college education is more than just taking courses. Meet new people, apply your skills and stretch beyond your comfort zone. Make your education an experience.

    • Field Experience: Seniors travel to historical locations, such as the Sand Creek Massacre and Bent’s Old Fort national historical sites to study the role of commemoration and memory.
    • History Honor Society: Join Iota Nu Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, one of Western’s oldest academic honor societies.
    • History League: Sponsors activities including a book club and catapult construction. 
    • Internships: Land an internship with the Crested Butte Heritage Museum.
    • Study Abroad: Travel to India, Ecuador, Prague, London, Italy or Belize through Extended Studies.


    Institutional Scholarships

    Common Scholarships

    Western offers approximately 70 common scholarships for which a wide variety of students are eligible (e.g., locals, veterans, transfers). Apply for any number of these common scholarships using Western’s Common Scholarship Application, which is due April 1. For more information, visit

    Early Action Credit

    If a student is accepted to Western by Nov. 1 and qualifies for a merit scholarship, the student will receive an additional $500 for the first year. Use our Net Price Calculator to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship.

    Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship

    Western Colorado University alumni can nominate prospective students for a $500 scholarship ($250 per semester) for first year only. Application deadline is typically June 1. For more information, visit

    Neighboring States Program

    Students with a permanent address from one of the seven contiguous neighboring states to Colorado who have demonstrated financial need are automatically considered for a special $1,000 per year grant, totaling $4,000 over four years.

    The Western Neighboring States program can be added to WUE, CP or merit scholarships. So, if you are a permanent resident of one of those seven states—and show financial need—you are eligible.

    For more information about the Neighboring States program, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

    Presidential Promise

    The Presidential Promise is guaranteed to students who have received a scholarship through the Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) and/or GearUp—and are eligible for a Pell Grant.

    For students who meet these criteria, Western will cover the cost of tuition and fees through the combination of federal, state and institutional aid. For more information on the Presidential promise, visit

    Tuition Discount Programs

    Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) or Central Plains (CP) tuition represents a substantial savings relative to normal, out-of-state tuition. Students eligible for the WUE or CP program will be charged 150% of Western’s total in-state tuition. For 2018-19, total in-state tuition was $8,934. WUE/CP tuition was $13,401. The WUE/CP discount is valued at $4,695.

    For more information about the WUE and CP geography-based programs, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

    Western Merit Scholarship

    Immediately upon acceptance at Western, every student is considered for a merit scholarship worth between $2,500-$4,500 per year for in-state students and $8,000-$10,000 for out-of-state students. The amount is based on the student's GPA and ACT/SAT scores. Visit our Net Price Calculator at to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship. 

    For more information about merit scholarships at Western, visit

    Faculty & Staff


    Heather Thiessen-Reily, Ph.D. headshot
    Professor of History; Director of Master in Gallery Management & Exhibits Specialization
    Phone: 970.943.7128
    Office Location: Kelley Hall 225
  • Bachelor of Arts in History
    • Emphasis
    • Accelerated Master's Degree

    Public historians engage the public with the past. Whether it be working in classrooms, museums, historical sites, libraries, government or business, public historians bring our most important insights about the past to people of all ages outside of specialized academic settings.

    The Public History emphasis is built on a core of History courses, which introduce students to the associated fields of historic preservation, archival sciences, museum curatorship and oral history while being supported by academic historical content courses. Students add to their historical knowledge and develop practical field skills through supporting courses in Anthropology, Communication Arts, Environment & Sustainability and Recreation & Outdoor Education.

    The Program

    Mirroring the broad application of public history, the emphasis offers additional courses in Art, Business, Computer Science, Geography and Politics & Government that allow students to align their coursework to their skills and interests. 

    Students may also choose to earn a Master in Gallery Management & Exhibits Specialization (MGES) or Master in Environmental Management (MEM) degree in just five years through Western’s innovative 3+2 programs. Highly motivated and academically qualified students in the 3+2 track spend their first three years earning their B.A. in History and their final two years earning their MGES or MEM.  


    Public historians carry an array of titles and work in fields from business and government to museums and libraries. Public History graduates find careers as:

    • Archivists
    • Community Activists
    • Cultural Resource Managers
    • Curators
    • Environmental Consultants
    • Film and Media Producers
    • Gallery Managers
    • Government Historians
    • Historic Preservationists
    • Historical Consultants
    • Historical Interpreters
    • Librarians
    • Local Historians
    • Museum Professionals
    • Oral Historians
    • Policy Advisers
    • Teachers

    Learn More

    Reach out to Heather Thiessen-Reily, Ph.D. for more information.

    Interested in Graduate School?

    Western’s accelerated 3+2 programs allow you to earn your bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in just five years—saving you time and money.

    Students study the snowpack / a student installs a solar panel

    Master in Environmental Management 3+2

    Accelerated Master's Degree
    Master in Environmental Management, MEM, Western Colorado University, accelerated degree, 3+2, Western State, accelerated graduate degree
    A student photographs a mountain / a student studies art displayed in a gallery

    Master of Arts in Art: Gallery Management & Exhibits Specialization (MGES) 3+2

    Accelerated Master's Degree
    Gallery Management, 3+2, Exhibits, Art, Western Colorado, University, graduate degree, accelerated graduate degree, master's, art gallery, curator, jeff taylor